Professional News

UK Land-Grant Engagement Office announces leadership team

Dean Nancy Cox
Nancy Cox, Ph.D., vice president for land-grant engagement and dean of the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2023) — The University of Kentucky has announced a new land-grant engagement leadership team, led by Nancy Cox, vice president for land-grant engagement and dean of the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

The team includes associate vice president for land-grant engagement, Laura Stephenson, who also currently serves as associate dean and director of cooperative extension. Stephenson's extensive experience in extension makes her an ideal choice to lead the university's engagement efforts.

"I am pleased to announce that Laura Stephenson has been appointed associate vice president of land-grant engagement," said Cox. "Her extensive experience makes her an exceptional choice to foster, facilitate new opportunities and grow our engagement work with and in Kentucky communities."

Stephenson said she is excited about the opportunity to combine the grassroots nature of extension with the full university's knowledge and research capabilities.

"We have built a strong team to support our goals as we increase our capacity," said Stephenson. "I am confident that by harnessing the power of partnerships and collaborations, we can significantly improve our service to communities across Kentucky."

The UK Engage leadership and operations team also includes employees within the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

  • Lola Adedokun, director of Extension Evaluation
  • Chris Crumrine, director of government relations
  • Kim Henken, director of extension engagement and administrative initiatives
  • Ken Jones, director of Program and Staff Development
  • Dan Kahl, associate director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky
  • Hayley Pierce, executive communications specialist

These faculty and staff will work collaboratively to forge strategic partnerships across the university, building on the success of Cooperative Extension through greater translation of university research and expertise. More information can be found at:

The establishment of the vice president for land-grant engagement in August 2020 signaled the university's commitment to fostering purposeful collaboration across its campus. The dual role of the vice president and the dean of the college will help the university leverage the strong connection to Kentucky communities forged through cooperative extension.

UK Engage has already made significant progress in strengthening its partnerships with various colleges and administrative units. The new leadership team is poised to take this work to the next level, and help the university fulfill its land-grant mission of serving the people of Kentucky.

“The University of Kentucky exists to serve the Commonwealth,” said President Eli Capilouto. “Advancing Kentucky means ensuring health and well-being, in all aspects, for our state — a strong workforce, an engaged and educated citizenry and physically and mentally healthy people. This new leadership team will help us fulfill our mission as a land-grant institution.”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.